HDT | FTR: Trump Impact Minimal in Short Term

11.11.16 | David Cullen, HDT

Economists with freight transportation forecasting firm FTR are convinced that the election of Donald Trump will not much move any economic needles much for at least six months. Not because the 45th President of the United States won’t accomplish anything right away, but because the wheels of government don’t spin any faster for a new Administration.

“There will be little near-term change in FTR’s outlook for the U.S. economy, as budgets are set and policies are intact until late 2017,” pointed out Noël Perry, transportation economist at FTR, in a post-election commentary piece. “There is the possibility of additional caution by consumers and businesses until the new administration sets policies.” He noted as well that any policy change typically takes a year or longer to fully implement.

FTR sees President-elect Trump focusing first on pushing through a significant tax cut, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and filling the Supreme Court vacancy. “Each of those issues are big enough to occupy the majority of legislative time.” Trump no doubt will also assess the trade agreements he faulted so heavily during his campaign. But given that a trade with any of our major partners would not benefit them or the American consumer, such talk augurs for “more smoke and mirrors than substance.”

Trump’s impact will likely be felt more substantially and sooner on regulations and enforcement. According to FTR Partner and Senior Consultant Larry Gross, look first for the loosening of environmental controls on coal and oil exploration and piping.

“The coal situation won’t change much due to economic pressure from natural gas, but, for instance, pipelines stalled in the Plains region could get a boost of activity soon," said Gross. "Second will be a reversal of the stiffening of National Labor Relations Board action of many types. The President-elect has plenty of experience with unions and we can assume he will be assertive there. This means less pressure on overtime pay and reclassification of truck drivers. Also, a significant federal minimum wage change is now unlikely, although several states had ballot measures related to higher minimum wages that were successful on Tuesday.”

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